The road to revival for a Middle Tennessee attraction is entering the last mile of an extensive overhaul funded entirely by grants and donations
NASHVILLE, TN – After seven years of work to relocate 1940s steam locomotive No. 576 from static display in Centennial Park and revamp it into a regional tourist attraction, the end is almost in sight and caretakers Nashville Steam Preservation Society, Inc. has launched a new matching campaign to raise $350,000 to finish the job.
“We are at the stage in the restoration where instead of sending out parts and components for rebuilding, or taking things apart at our shop in Nashville, we’re poised to start reassembling the locomotive,” said NSPS President Shane Meador. “For the last two years, progress has been hard to measure for the casual observer, but by Spring, we intend to reinstall the 576’s massive 30-tons of driving wheels, and it will start to look like a locomotive again.”
The new LAST MILE CAMPAIGN is made possible by $100,000 in matching funds from the Walter Ferguson Charitable Trust and $75,000 from The Right Track Foundation. With these matches, all donations of $576 or more will be matched, dollar-for-dollar. While gifts of any size are welcome, Nashville Steam is hopeful to reach this matching goal campaign this year and also anticipates other special matching opportunities and amounts to be announced later in 2023.
Donations can be made online at nashvillesteam.org or mailed to Nashville Steam, 220 Willow Street, Nashville, Tennessee, 37210.
Prior fundraising efforts helped raise over two million dollars for the relocation and specialized mechanical work necessary to repair 576 to operating condition. Components of 576 have traveled to machine shops in Tennessee, Pennsylvania, and Georgia, while the bulk of ongoing repair work has been conducted largely by volunteers. In addition, the overhaul has been supported by Music City legends such as Marty Stuart, Old Crow Medicine Show, Harry Stinson, Gillian Welch, David Rawlings, Rhonda Vincent among others.
“An effort like this is a lot like raising a sunken ship. Everything was in disrepair after 70 years of disuse and exposure, but once this project is done, the locomotive will be a cultural attraction for generations to come and bring a piece of Old Nashville back to life,” shared Joey Bryan, Communications Manager for Nashville Steam. “Steam engines inspired countless musicians with their various sounds and rhythms and the operation of this historic machine will be another piece in telling the story of Music City and Middle Tennessee.”
“Barring any unforeseen issues, we anticipate reassembly throughout the year and important testing to begin later in 2024 or early 2025. That milestone won’t be historic just for us in Nashville, but it will be the first time since 1952 that a steam locomotive from the Nashville, Chattanooga & St. Louis Railway will have operated,” added Bryan.
When completed, the locomotive will undergo testing, and trial runs, and eventually operate on passenger excursion trains. Efforts have long been underway to model Nashville Steam’s business plan after proven attractions elsewhere in the United States, where similar heritage tourism offerings and historic train rides can bring anywhere from 20,000 to 80,000 visitors, or more, per year.